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Summary in 400 words or less:
1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.
Examining the first two premises:
Premise 1 – whatever begins to exist has a cause
– The universe began to exist and being the highest form in the hierarchy of the material world it shares the same contingent existence as any lesser object that exists within it (be it an apple that contingently exists because it had first be grown, or a book that contingently exists because it had to first be printed, etc.)
– Contingent existence vs necessary existence – the latter is a property of a being that possesses the reason for its existence within itself, per Leibniz. Necessary existence is not contingent and is therefore eternal. Nothing in the universe exists necessarily (more on this later)
Premise 2 – the universe began to exist
The absurdity of the infinite in reality:
– The infinite exists neither in nature nor provides a basis for rational thought
– It is an abstract concept that if actual would lead to self-contradictions. Mathematically infinity minus infinity yields a multitude of self-contradictory answers. (For example: an infinite set of even numbers minus an infinite set of odd numbers still yields an infinite set of numbers; but an infinite set of all positive numbers minus an infinite set of numbers starting with the number 3 yields a finite set of numbers)
The Standard Model and the The Big Bang Theory:
– The universe is finite in the past and sprang into existence from a singularity of space-time, prior to which nothing existed. This is supported by study of the cosmic background radiation in the universe which shows its age at about 13.7 billion years old. The radiation in this spectrum has existed since the Big Bang. The BBT is the best theory we have in light of cosmic background radiation findings, and also in light of the fact that the universe is found to be in a state of cosmic expansion. This is something multiple cosmologists including Stephen Hawking confirm.
– Borde-Guthe-Vilenkin theorem from 2003 – state that any universe that is in a state of eternal expansion (like ours) cannot be eternal in the past and must have a finite beginning
Alternative theories have failed to provide the same support as the BBT in supporting the state of an expanding universe:
– Oscillatory models of the universe – fell out of favor by 1970s – state that the universe can be in an eternal state of contraction and expansion. Vilenkin himself stated that this cannot support our current understanding of an eternally expanding universe because multiple contractions would be far too unstable and would have to result in multiple singularities with no meaningful expansions. Furthermore it’s been shown that their thermodynamic demands necessitated an existence of a singular space-time!
– M-verse, string theory and quantum field theories – the latter category has especially demonstrated difficulty in reconciling traditional gravitational forces (relativistic space-time based on Einstein’s theory of relativity) with quantum forces. Vilenkin himself stated that applying relativistic space-time to quantum field theories may not even be talking the same language, but he stated: “if the fluctuations are not so wild as to invalidate classical spacetime, the Borde-Guthe-Vilenkin theorem is immune to any possible modifications of Einstein’s equations which may be caused by quantum effects.” – basically the BGV theorem (that supports a singular space-time) can still hold even if quantum gravity effects are taken into the equation, but these alternative models are still far too insufficient in light of our recent findings where the standard model (singular space-time) continues to be the best explanation.
Premise 3 – Therefore the universe had a cause
Given the defense of the premises above, the conclusion logically follows.
Further points to understand
Therefore the causation of the universe is based explained by a transcendent being who is outside of both space and time and immaterial (in order to be able to bring both space and time into existence, along with the material universe). The only options then become: a) a mind, or b) an abstract object. However abstract objects do not possess the property of causation as they cannot cause anything to come into existence. Therefore it is a dynamic, transcendent, changeless being who is the best explanation as only a being and not a substance or abstract object (even if they exist necessarily) that possesses both necessary existence and the property of causation that can bring a contingent universe into existence.
The above is supported by additional examination of Aristotle’s “unmoved mover” argument:
“Unmoved mover” argument from Metaphysics book XII – “There is, then something which is always moved with an unceasing motion…And since that which is moved and moves is intermediate, there is something which moves without being moved, being eternal, substance and actuality. The “eternal mover” initiates movement by being the primary object of desire and thought. Aristotle ultimately arrives at the conclusion that the object of divine thought is that which is most divine and if the primary mover itself is unmoved and separable from the material and contingent existence of that which it moves, then it is both most divine and the object of divine thought itself.
Scripture for YouVersion:
Three questions (1 fill-in-the-blank, 1 multiple choice, and one discussion question):
References for further reading:
On Guard, William Lane Craig, chapter 4.
Kreeft, Peter & Tacelli, Ronald K. Twenty Arguments For the Existence of God
From Appeared to Blogly (Chad McIntosh): Kalam Cosmological Arguments. See William Lane Craig’s numerous writings. Major defenses are Craig, The Kalam Cosmological Argument (Wipf & Stock, ed. 2000); Craig and Quentin Smith, Theism, Atheism, and Big Bang Cosmology (Oxford, 1995). Mark Nowacki, The Kalam Cosmological Argument for God (Prometheus, 2007). An excellent presentation is Craig’s “The Kalam Cosmological Argument,” in Reasonable Faith (Crossway, 3rd ed. 2008), ch. 3. A very up-to-date defense is Craig & James Sinclair, “The Kalam Cosmological Argument,” in Craig & Moreland (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), pp. 101-201. For a more accessible overview of the argument, see Craig, ”The Existence of God and the Beginning of the Universe,” Truth: A Journal of Modern Thought 3 (1991), pp. 85-96.
Collaborators: Bishoy Samuel
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